A Long Sentence for a Little Monkey

When I last wrote about the Little Monkey’s communication skills, about a year ago, he was just about signing “more”. Now, the 50-odd signs he knew have fallen by the wayside, in favour of increasingly complex, and charming, phrases and sentences. I think the longest sentence to date is “Mummy said ‘Oh my word, it’s very bumpy at the Jo Jingles car park'”. Perhaps a bit of context is necessary here. Jo Jingles is a song and activity class he goes to (which he absolutely loves, and where he has honed his ‘sleeping bunny‘ to a professional standard, extending even to snoring noises while lying down). And the car park at the village hall where it takes place resembles a recently-shelled, massively-cratered, war zone.

Also, I’ve translated what he actually said, a little bit. “Mummy” is pronounced “Muh”; for some reason, although we always refer to her as “Mummy”, he sees fit to reduce her to a single syllable. Perhaps it saves him some time and effort, since she looks after him all day, and he has to say it a lot. “Daddy” always gets at least two syllables, and sometimes, when he gets carried away, I can be “Da-da-da-da”. The repetition of a single syllable in multi-syllable words is typical of the Little Monkey at the minute, so “bumpy” is actually “bump-bump”, and “Jingles” is more like “Ji-ji”. This behaviour lends itself to a distinct way of expressing himself, as the syllable can be repeated more than is necessary for dramatic effect. For example, his toast this morning was “very crun-crun-crun!” (crunchy).

His interest in saying things himself, and in what Mummy and Daddy say, extends to what animals (and inanimate objects say). He’ll ask “what that?”, we’ll reply as appropriate (e.g. “llama”, “deer”, “plant pot”), and he’ll immediately follow up with “what he say?”. For many animals this is obvious (cows, turkeys etc.), and you can get enjoyably creative with others, such as making a spitting noise for llamas, and gnus saying [with gusto] “nu-nu-nu-nu”. Deers are “mostly quiet”, but sometimes make a mooing/humming noise, according to Mrs. MonkeyShines. This all sounds fairly straightforward, but difficulties arise because he remembers what everything says (even though this doesn’t stop him asking). I can’t make the deer noise properly, so when he asks me what they say, my attempts are greeted with a slightly cross “that not right!”. (He used to get a bit upset and say “Don’ want that one”, but he’s recently adopted a more world-weary, irritable tone; I know all children ultimately realise that their parents aren’t infallible and omniscient, but I hadn’t expected it to be quite so soon.)

So whenever Mrs. MonkeyShines and I come up with a new vocalisation, we have to confer with each other, to ensure consistency and thus the future happiness of our Little Monkey. And it’s getting increasingly complicated as some animals start to say phrases. Geoffrey, Toby’s favourite soft toy, is a giraffe, and some time ago Mrs. MonkeyShines and I thought it would be amusing to make him a Geordie. So he says “howay pet”, while all other giraffes make a leaf-munching noise. I still don’t know what a plant pot says, though.

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